Tuesday, 30 August 2016


John Carter arrives naked on Mars. Holger Carlsen arrives naked on the Carolingian Earth. But Holger is expected. His horse and equipment wait for him.

Carter arrives on a dead sea bottom whereas Holger arrives in an exaggerated Terrestrial environment. Familiar trees, oak etc, are too big and wild for modern Denmark. A hawk hovers and a bear approaches. It looks medieval - or is this the way a forest would look in an imagined, mythical world?

Holger is bigger than the twentieth century norm and medieval men were smaller but the sword that he finds exactly fits his grasp. The stage is set and the principal actor has arrived. He just does not know it yet.


"'Fare always well.' [Oberon] raised the staff. 'Titania, away!'
"They were gone into the radiant winter night.
"After a long while, Rupert took Jennifer's arm and said, 'Come, darling, let's get home before the day.'"
-Poul Anderson, A Midsummer Tempest, Chapter xxv, p. 227.

This is the end of the last numbered chapter. There follows a one-page Epilogue with a different cast of characters.

"-Farewell, we heard. Blessings. Coyote, kachinas, and the Beloved Ones vanished. We rested alone on Dowa Yalanne.
"Balawahdiwa led Valeria out by the hand. 'It's all right if Owl flits us to our brooms,' he said. 'Let's go home.'"
-Poul Anderson, Operation Luna (New York, 2000), Chapter 49, p. 438.

There is just one more sentence, in which the wolf howls.

"The men were descending with their plunder. 'Let's go,' Everard said, and led them away."
-Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 765.

(Time Patrolmen play the role of plunderers.) Unfortunately, those two sentences are the very end of the Time Patrol series.

I think that, at the very end of the Star Trek episode, "The City On The Edge Of Forever," by Harlan Ellison, Kirk says, "Let's get out of here," then he, Spock and McCoy disappear in transport beams? Because this is a time travel story, I think of its ending in parallel with that of the last Time Patrol story.

Cavaliers And Roundheads

My childhood:

cops and robbers;
cowboys and Indians;
Cavaliers and Roundheads.

I read a comic strip with a Cavalier as hero and Roundheads as Nazi-like villains. In my teens, I read a series of novels about a Roundhead spy, Nicholas Pym:

Pym's immediate superior, the equivalent of M, was John Thurloe;
Pym also met Cromwell and prevented his assassination;
Pym's enemies were Guido Fawkes, son of Guy, and the Sealed Knot, which answered to the exiled Stuart.

In Poul Anderson's A Midsummer Tempest (London, 1975), Chapter xii, Valeria Matuchek says:

"'...I always had sympathy for the Cavaliers. Maybe that was schoolgirl romantics; and anyhow, the issues may not be identical in Rupert's home.'" (p. 105)

Would you fight for a King against a Parliament? Leon Trotsky, analyzing seventeenth century England, identified three successive "dual powers," actual or potential civil wars:

King versus Parliament - Parliament won;
Parliament versus Army - Army won;
generals versus rank and file - generals won.

The significance of Cromwell was that he was on the winning side each time and thus became Lord Protector, dictator. My sympathies would have been with the Levelers, who wanted common ownership of land and an end to social hierarchies. However, I would have been pleased enough to see the merchants gaining political power as against the aristocrats, which is what came to pass.

Valeria concludes:

"'Nothing ever was forever, anyway. Peace never came natural. The point is, it can sometimes be won for some years, and they can be lived in.'"
-Epilogue, p. 229.

Dominic Flandry and Manse Everard say the same. We recognize Poul Anderson's authorship and philosophy in the Technic History universe, the Time Patrol universe and the old Phoenix multiverse.

"'Enough. I hope you've enjoyed my story.'" (ibid.)

So has Valeria narrated the entire novel?

Many Languages

I would like to be able to speak more than one language. At secondary school in the Republic of Ireland in the 1960's, I was "taught" Irish, French and Latin and never learned to speak any of them. Later, I learned some Esperanto and, when I saw that a guy was wearing the green star of Esperanto, I managed two lines of dialogue -

Me: Cu vi parolas Esperanton?
Him: Jes, jes, flue! Kaj vi?
Me: Ne, ne flue!

- which did not get us very far.

In Poul Anderson's A Midsummer Tempest, Clodia says, "'Da mi bassia mille.'" (Chapter xii, p. 94) Holger responds, "'Det var som Fanden!'" (ibid.) We have access to the meanings of both these sentences. Googling reveals that Clodia quotes a poem by Catullus addressed to her. See here. In Anderson's Three Hearts And Three Lions (London, 1977), Holger, on arriving in another world, mutters the same phrase and we are told that it "...means, roughly, 'What the hell!'" (Chapter One, p. 13) - so we do not need an explanation when we read the same phrase again in A Midsummer Tempest!

Sorry, folks, but real life is intervening here.

A Generation

Three Hearts And Three Lions (London, 1977) is copyright Poul Anderson 1961. In the introductory Note, a first person narrator tells us:

"Holger and I first met more than twenty years ago. It was in another generation - another age." (p. 7)

I was told at school that a generation was about twenty years, just long enough for someone to be born, grow up and start to have children. We assume that the narrator speaks from the year 1961 unless the text states otherwise. Thus, in round figures, Holger and he might have met about 1940. In fact, he goes on to tell us that it was:

"...in the fall of that remote year 1938." (p. 7)

Remote, indeed. Fiction reflects life, including the passage of time. Even in 1961, 1938 was "remote" because of all that had happened since then. Apart from the War, the narrator says of "...the bright lads I am training these days..." (ibid.) that:

"...they have grown up with the incredible. Look at any scientific journal, any newspaper, out of any window, and ask yourself if outlandishness has not become the ordinary way of the world." (ibid.)

From the perspective of 2016 - the science fiction future -, we can only say, "All the more so."

In 1938, Holger Carlsen was six feet four, broad-shouldered, yellow-haired and blue-eyed, thus a classic Nordic hero, at least in appearance. "Carlsen," originally meaning "son of Carl," has of course changed from a patronymic to a surname but, in any case, is the name of the Danish family that had adopted Holger because he was found on a doorstep or at least in a courtyard in "'...Elsinore, Hamlet's home town.'" (p. 8) This reference to Hamlet links Three Hearts... to Anderson's A Midsummer Tempest in which Holger cameos and Hamlet was real.

References to relativity, quantum mechanics and sorcery link Three Hearts... to Anderson's Operation... volumes and Holger will meet Valeria Matuchek from those books in A Midsummer Tempest.


Portenious Beginnings

Poul Anderson's Three Hearts And Three Lions (London, 1977) begins with a Note narrated in the first person by a fictional character. He will relate Holger's tale although he does not claim that it is true. It is more likely:

"...a dream, or a very tall story." (p. 7)

But, if it is true, then it has practical future implications.

Anderson's There Will Be Time (New York, 1973) begins with a Foreword narrated in the first person by Poul Anderson although it is fiction. He is:

"...not about to pretend this story is true." (p. 5)

But, if Anderson and his readers were to research the matter, then:

"...our discoveries could conceivably endanger us." (ibid.)

Anderson's Operation Chaos (New York, 1995) begins with a passage without heading or title, narrated in the first person by Steven Matuchek who narrates the entire novel. Matuchek is not writing a text but attempting to broadcast telepathically to other timelines. His recipients, if he has any, might think that his message is "...nothing but a dream." (p. 2) Nevertheless, it contains a "...warning." (p. 2)

In all three cases, Anderson conveys the impression that his fiction might be both true and urgent.

Guests In The Old Phoenix III

"'Rupertus, filius comitis palatini Rheni, et Guillermus, miles et famulus suus.'"
-Poul Anderson, A Midsummer Tempest, Chapter xii, p. 97.

"Rupert, son of the guardian/imperial attendant (?) of the province (?) of the Rhine and William, his soldier and servant."

Even easy Latin is difficult.

For more information about Holger Carlsen, we turn to Poul Anderson's Three Hearts And Three Lions (Sphere, London, 1977). Chapter One is preceded by a five page "Note" (pp. 7-11) which, however, is not an author's or publisher's note but part of the text. The novel ends with another, two page, "Note" (pp. 154-156). The Notes are a framing device. Thus, they have first person narration:

"Holger and I first met more than twenty years ago." (p. 7)

"I had letter from Holger Carlsen right after the war, to say he'd come through alive." (p. 154)

- whereas Chapters One to Twenty-Four are third person narration about Holger:

"He woke slowly." (p. 13)

Holger is a man in a timeline where there is a World War II. He is described by an acquaintance before being transported, through "...flame and darkness..." (p. 11), to a fabulous realm where he is destined to be a hero, "...the Defender." (p. 154)

A standard formula for a fantasy novel, the only question being how well Anderson writes to this formula.

Guests In The Old Phoenix II

Poul Anderson, A Midsummer Tempest (London, 1975), Chapter xii.

Holger Carlsen:

"'...was born in - a universe where the Carolingian myths are true...'" (p. 102);

was cast into a timeline where magic does not work and where World War II was fought against Germany;

is trying to find his way home with a spell that takes him between universes but without any direction;

"'...barely escaped'" from "'...a clutch of Aztec gods...'" (ibid.);

from hints and clues, has found his way to the Old Phoenix.

When Rupert speaks of Hamlet and Macbeth as contemporaries of each other and of cannon in Hamlet's time and claims to have met Oberon and Titania, Valeria asks him:

Did Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, Falstaff and Othello exist?
Was there a University of Wittenberg in Hamlet's time?
Were there striking clocks in Caesar's time?
Was Richard III "'...really a hunchbacked monster?'" (p. 104)
Did Bohemia have a sea coast?
Does witchcraft work?
Does Rupert know of William Shakespeare?

Rupert knows of Shakespeare as "'...the great Historian.'" (p. 105)

Richard III was hunchbacked in our timeline. See here. (But also see Comments.)

The skeleton, which had several unusual physical features, most notably a severe curvature of the back was exhumed to allow scientific analysis. (copied) 

Monday, 29 August 2016

Guests In The Old Phoenix

Poul Anderson, A Midsummer Tempest, Chapter xii, p. 99.

The guests introduce themselves:

Valeria Matuchek from the United States of America;

Holger Carlsen of Denmark;

Rupert of the Rhine Palatinate, nephew of Charles I, grandson of King James VI of Scotland/I of England and of Queen Anne who had been a Danish princess (Rupert adds that England and Scotland have been friendly with Denmark at least since Hamlet).

Thus, we recognize:

Valeria and Holger from previous novels by Anderson;
Rupert and his royal relatives from history;
Hamlet from Shakespeare.

We realize that reality is turning itself inside out for our enjoyment and edification.

The Roman Connection

Poul Anderson, A Midsummer Tempest, Chapter xii, "LATER."

"'And this is Clodia Pulcher, come from Rome.'
"Will leered at her. Rupert was dumbfounded. 'That Clodia - Catullus' Lesbia?' he faltered. (His host nodded.) 'But she is dead this sixteen hundred years!'" (p. 97)

"primum Catullus Clodiae ipsi amorem declarare non audet..."
-Maurice Balme and James Morwood, Oxford Latin Course, Part III, revised impression (Oxford, 1994), Chapter X, "Catullus In Love," p. 104.

"da mi basia mille, deinde centum..." (ibid.)

"She crooned, to be heard only by him: 'Da mi basia mille.'" (A Midsummer Tempest, Chapter xi, p. 94)

7 da mi basia mille, deinde centum, Give me a thousand kisses, then a hundred,      copied from here